The power of great literature lies in its ability to reflect society. Writing about John McGahern, the American author John Updike called it “that (...)

In the years after the second World War, a generic literary figure emerged. This was the translator. Travel and the aftermath of war had combined t(...)

EL Doctorow, who has died aged 84, was a leading figure in American literature whose popular and critically admired novels – including Ragtime, Billy (...)

Among the best short story writers (top row): John Cheever, Eudora Welty, Raymond Carver; (Bottom row): Ron Rash, Flannery O’Connor and Richard Ford

And the rocket’s red glare. The bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there From The Star Spangled Banner (1814)(...)

Thierry Henry is earning €5.6million as a football pundit on Sky Sports. Photograph: Getty

Oh, Thierry. It wasn’t meant to be this way. How did we get here? What happened? And is there a rewind button? Eight months into that giddily well-rem(...)

Photograph: Viktor Gårdsäter

It can’t be particularly easy for a man to step on a hamster, unless of course the hamster happens to be ill or unusually slow. In The Winter War no d(...)

 Colette at work about 1940. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Recently, American writer Edmund White remarked, not for the first time, that literary figures are far more respected in France than in the US. Whe(...)

‘New Yorker’ baseball writer Roger Angell (left) with retired baseball player  George Brett during a reception in Angell’s honour in Cooperstown, New York, at which he received the JG Taylor Spink Award, the Baseball Hall of Fame’s writing honour. Photograph: Nathaniel Brooks/The New York Times

Roger Angell takes off his brown J Press sports coat and blue cap, yanks out his hearing aids, stashes his cane and sits down for a shave and hairc(...)

Gerald Dawe: ‘Do it because you want to and not for any other reason, and stick at it no matter what.’  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

What was the first book to make an impression on you? Sons and Lovers by D H Lawrence. What was your favourite book as a child? Treasure Island(...)

‘Seamus Heaney suggested that if the American national myth is the frontier, the Irish national myth is the bog.’ Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Through such writers as Beckett, Shaw and Wilde, Irish literature cannot be accused of ignoring philosophy, but very often it features as the butt (...)